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Fighting in Fallujah Kills 2 Civilians, 2 US Soldiers Wounded - 2004-03-24

The U.S. military in Iraq says a roadside bomb blast and a brief gunfight in the town Falluja has left at least two civilians dead and four people wounded, including two American soldiers.

According to a U.S. military spokesperson, fighting broke out when coalition troops were ambushed as they entered the town shortly after midnight. Insurgents detonated a roadside bomb and opened small arms fire, wounding two soldiers and destroying a vehicle.

Residents said a number of houses were damaged and sounds of gunfire and explosions echoed around the town for several hours after the attack.

Fallujah -- located about 50-kilomters west of Baghdad -- has been the site of frequent anit-coalition violence since U.S.-led forces ousted the regime of Saddam Hussein nearly a year ago.

Meanwhile, in Baghdad, a rocket hit a hotel in the central part of the city early Wednesday morning, causing little damage and no casualties.

Foreign contractors and journalists frequently stay in that hotel (Sheraton)

Sirens also sounded briefly in the Green Zone, which houses the headquarters of the U.S.-led coalition.

On Tuesday, 11 people were killed in two separate insurgent attacks -- in Mussayab, south of Baghdad, and in the northern city of Kirkuk. Among the victims, nine were police trainees and the other two, policemen.

In recent weeks, there has been a sharp rise in attacks against Iraqi security personnel and others working with the U.S.-led Iraqi occupation authority.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.